Page 126 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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AMERICAN JEWISH JUVENILE BOOKS
1956-1957
By
F
a n n y
G
o l d s t e in
T
h e
over-all picture for American juvenile books published in
1956 reflects the same trends discernible in previous years.
Once again we are confronted with a dearth of imaginative fiction.
There is a predominance of non-fiction books dealing with biog­
raphy, historical subjects, and science. Emphasis is focused on
facts rather than on adventure tales with child appeal.
These observations impel us toward the unhappy conclusion
that the year 1956 has produced a lean book harvest for Jewish
children. The infusion of the exciting theme of the discovery of
the Dead Sea Scrolls, has introduced a new and welcome note.
But since this topic stems from Bible roots, we find it is still the
Bible that produces the chief sources for Jewish juvenile literary
works.
There should be also other sources and other topics from the
broad stream of historic Judaism to stimulate writers of books for
the young. A great potential resides in the numerous literary
bypaths that wait to be tapped and explored for their inexhaustible
reservoir of Jewish lore. Many treasures in this reservoir need
only imaginative minds, sympathetic hearts and skilled literary
craftsmanship to be transmuted into volumes that will enrich the
none-too-opulent storehouse of American Jewish juveniles.
Perhaps greater stress might be put on biographies of pioneering
heroes who have battled against discrimination and injustice. The
role of the Jew in American integration, in brotherhood and good
will activities, in art and music — these are only a few suggestions
for career stories with American setting and universal appeal. The
saga of Israel’s gallant struggle and the thrilling epic of Youth
Aliyah graduates who have achieved useful and productive lives,
are further topics of adventure awaiting translation into books
suitable for young Jewish readers.
The last generation has witnessed considerable advance in the
publication of Jewish juveniles, and the index points to greater
improvement. Noteworthy in the present output is a new series
issued by Behrman, “ Play and Learn Library.” This series,
obtainable at a modest price, purposes to portray Jewish life
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